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Midwives warn against ‘complacency’ in tackling FGM

Midwives and local authorities have raised concerns at the latest quarterly statistics regarding cases of female genital mutilation (FGM) in England, warning that the government must ‘not become complacent’ in tackling the practice.

The statistics for the third quarter of 2016, released by NHS Digital in support of the Department of Health’s FGM prevention programme in England, show that 1,205 of newly recorded cases of FGM were reported from July to September, with 1,971 total attendances where FGM was identified.

The top five areas where FGM is prevalent include London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Sheffield. Worryingly, the statistics showed that 94% of girls were seventeen or younger when the FGM was carried out.

Janet Fyle, professional policy advisor at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), warned about the figures, saying: “This latest set of data is most concerning as there appears to be more cases of FGM being identified, particularly in girls under eighteen and those born in the UK. 

“The number of recorded cases in girls under eighteen was 39 cases. There were also 34 newly recorded cases identified in women and girls who were born in the UK.  This is simply unacceptable.

“It is shocking and requires immediate action, because it indicates that girls continue to be at risk of FGM – even in the UK where we have strived to put in place measures to protect them, which appear not to be robust enough.”

Fyle called for local NHS commissioning areas to be vigilant and make sure that the correct support services are in place at NHS trusts or GP practices where vulnerable women and girls present with FGM, particularly culturally appropriate physiological services which are still unevenly spread.

Midwives are one of the key healthcare professions in detecting and preventing FGM with the RCM providing its members with improved learning resources such as i-learn tutorials to identify women at risk. However, Fyle emphasised that all healthcare professionals must be vigilant.

“The community clearly has a role to play in ending FGM but the state cannot abdicate its responsibilities for ending FGM. We owe a duty to the girls who continue to be victims of FGM,” Fyle concluded.

Cllr Lisa Brett, FGM spokesperson for the Local Government Association (LGA), which runs the national FGM Centre in partnership with the charity Barnardo’s, said that local authorities are working with communities to end the practice but must receive more help from clinicians.

The House of Commons' Home Affairs Committee warned earlier this year that efforts to prevent FGM will fail if clinicians do not comply with their new statutory obligation to report it to police when identified.

“While newly recorded cases of FGM have fallen since the previous quarter, fewer NHS trusts submitted an FGM attendance record,” Brett said.

“It is crucial that health trusts and GP practices continue to submit FGM attendance records to help build reliable and accurate figures reflecting the prevalence of FGM across the country.”

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Brid Hehir   08/12/2016 at 13:40

Complacency? Hardly. Obsession more like! The reality does not live up to the scaremongering and the data is neither accurate or reliable. I explore this and much more on

Ayan Omar   08/12/2016 at 22:07

I loathe this lazy maligning of people’ motives on scant evidence . As a 32 year old woman who was infibulated as a child back home , Yes ! Back home . I was identified as had the procedure when I accessed maternal health care in 2013 . This cock-up data by Department of Health does not tell anything worth re-printing ? I ask ; Where were this girls/women born? Where were they cut/infibulated etc?medicalised or otherwise? Or even when did the enter UK ? I’m disappointed that such views were even printed , they derive from superficial understanding of our practices and motives . Healthcare professionals ought to be reminded that, the healthcare of all mothers is paramount, regardless to where they come from . I’m curious why health professions who come across Us(migrants-who come from regions where practice is prevalent) during pregnancy and childbirth are so silent whilst our fundamental rights to human dignity and autonomy are being profoundly affected by our experiences of maternity care ? We migrant women are giving birth , in an ‘safe space’; through the provision of culturally insensitive and culturally incompetent care . Midwives ,Yay ! have some balls ! And for a change think about the long time physical and mental wellbeing of those women you come across in your career . What is paramount importance is the urgent need to focus on a respectful dialogue with us African women, a dialogue shaped by an effort to “see the &’other’ in her own context" . Regards Ayan Omar

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